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A mad ‘dash’ to a healthy diet


By Angela Shelf Medearis Gina Harlow


Every year, the gluttony of the holidays combined with our good intentions for a new year have us making over our grocery lists, our pantries and our diets. Since the beginning of mass media and modern food production, there have been “fad” diets — recipes and meal plans to help you do everything from simply losing weight to fighting off major illnesses.

In the United States we have either too much food and are inclined to eat poorly, or we have too little of it and are forced by circumstances to eat poorly. People who find themselves eating out are frequently served portions that exceed dietary recommendations and are overloaded with fat, protein and carbs. Those on limited incomes may be eating out, but it’s most likely fast food or less expensive, highly processed foods. In the end, we all eat to live, and our diets are a vital part of our physical health. It’s important for everyone to make the best food choices possible.

Some people are disciplined enough to eat modest amounts of whole foods. Others, however, appreciate more guidance, and that’s where a diet plan comes in. When considering a specialized diet, make sure it’s based on studied and proven science. It’s also important that the diet is one you begin as a plan but continue as a long-term way of thinking about food and eating.

The DASH diet (which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed through research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health as a way to lower blood pressure and reduce the use of medication. Studies dating back to its inception in 1993 show that it’s an effective way to lose weight and reduce the risk of many diseases.

The DASH diet plan offers a path to change eating habits and improve health. It’s also a simple, delicious and a sustainable approach to healthy eating. The key to the DASH plan is portion size and a wide variety of foods with proper nutrients. The food is delicious, whole and healthy. It’s more than a plan; it’s a way to respect and care for our bodies while enjoying a good meal.

This recipe for Trout Veracruz is based on a Mexican seafood favorite from the port city of Veracruz. It’s a colorful, nutrition-packed, one-skillet meal that is easy to prepare and fits in beautifully with the DASH diet regimen.

Trout Veracruz

2 pounds trout filets, boneless and without skin

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes

1/4 cup green olives stuffed with pimentos

1 jalapeno pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups medium chopped onions

1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (use 1/2 tablespoon if dried)

1 tablespoon capers

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint (use 1/2 tablespoon if dried)

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme (use 1/2 tablespoon if dried)

1/2 cup toasted, chopped almonds

1. Place trout fillets in a small dish and coat with lemon zest and lemon juice. Core, seed and finely dice the tomatoes. Cut green olives into halves; seed the jalapeno pepper, cut into thin strips and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat; saute the tomatoes, onion, zucchini and garlic. Cook till the onion is tender. Add jalapeno pepper, green olives, parsley, capers, bay leaf, mint and thyme. Heat sauce until just boiling.

3. Add trout fillets with lemon zest and remaining lemon juice to skillet. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until trout fillets easily flake. Remove bay leaf and discard. Place trout fillets and vegetables on a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Cook remaining sauce for 2-3 minutes until reduced by half. Pour reduced sauce over trout fillets with the vegetables. Sprinkle with almonds and serve. Serves 4.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at www.peachesandprosciutto.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

(c) 2015 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis

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